© 2020 Fanshawe et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. Introduction Point of care blood testing to aid diagnosis is becoming increasingly common in acute ambulatory settings and enables timely investigation of a range of diagnostic markers. However, this testing allows scope for errors in the pre-analytical phase, which depends on the operator handling and transferring specimens correctly. The extent and nature of these pre-analytical errors in clinical settings has not been widely reported. Methods We carried out a convergent parallel mixed-methods service evaluation to investigate pre-analytical errors leading to a machine error reports in a large acute hospital trust in the UK. The quantitative component comprised a retrospective analysis of all recorded error codes from Abbott Point of Care i-STAT 1, i-STAT Alinity and Abbott Rapid Diagnostics Afinion devices to summarise the error frequencies and reasons for error, focusing on those attributable to the operator. The qualitative component included a prospective ethnographic study and a secondary analysis of an existing ethnographic dataset, based in hospital-based ambulatory care and community ambulatory care respectively. Results The i-STAT had the highest usage (113,266 tests, January 2016-December 2018). As a percentage of all tests attempted, its device-recorded overall error rate was 6.8% (95% confidence interval 6.6% to 6.9%), and in the period when reliable data could be obtained, the operator-attributable error rate was 2.3% (2.2% to 2.4%). Staff identified that the most difficult step was the filling of cartridges, but that this could be improved through practice, with a perception that cartridge wastage through errors was rare. Conclusions In the observed settings, the rate of errors attributable to operators of the primary point of care device was less than 1 in 40. In some cases, errors may lead to a small increase in resource use or time required so adequate staff training is necessary to prevent adverse impact on patient care.